Jay-Z's video for 'On To The Next One' was a game changer - taking hip-hop's affection for shiny things and moving the attention off the obvious brand names and on to post modern pop art. Director Sam Brown created a powerful clip and this caught the attention of fellow director, Trent Babbington, who has created a great series of posts about and around 'On To The Next One.'
We have excerpted some of his Sam Brown interview below, but be sure to get the deep dive in parts one, two, three and four on Trent's blog. He even has collected a gang of striking BTS stills, counted every camera set-up (answer: 62) and documented the conspiracy theories about the video that involve Freemasons and the Knights Templar. But not a whiff of Dame Dash?!? If you love music videos, you will love what's going on at Radaradr.
Sam Brown - The track has this sample in it that sounds like a record being played backwards. It puts me in mind of some pretty dark imagery and I decide to take a big risk on pitching something pretty extreme. So much high profile work is formulaic, mostly because it’s very hard to get labels and artists to trust you on something that doesn’t have instant commercial appeal. It’s a shame. I think that many directors are far more interesting than the work they get to make. I’m helped here because this is the fifth single off the album - the stakes are low and Jay is pressing for something different that moves outside the narrow boundaries of hip-hop videos. Jay loves the treatment, so I’m shooting it in LA only a week later.
I like it when a video is like a portrait, one in which you control the character. One of the great things about directing videos is that you can shape artists to how you think they should be. I’ve always liked Rick Rubin’s approach to production, stripping away all the bullshit and putting people in touch with the basics. I’ve tried to do the same with videos. Jay’s performance rolls off as sparse and raw and brooding. Perfect.